Use Coffee Filters to Extend the Life of Your Water Filtration System

Water Filtration Systems have a set lifespan. After a while the filters just get worn out. You can use coffee filters to extend the life of your water filter.

Zack and I did a quick demonstration of this system in Mason jars to show how effective it can be.

Pre-filtering water through coffee filters removes all of the larger debris and a lot of dirt too. This can go a long way towards extending the life of your water filter because it doesn’t have to work nearly as hard.

Not to mention coffee filters are small and light enough for your Bug Out Bag

Dirty Water

Dirty Water
Dirty Water

Standing rain water from outside the house. We added some dirt to emphasize the effects. In a survival situation you may have to rely on whatever water you can find and chances are in won’t be very clean.

Build Your Own Water Source

create water on demandWater independence is crucial as a survivalist. Learn the skills and processes you need to create water on-demand. The video teaches you how to build a device that generates clean, safe water. Check it out!

Watch Video
Coffee Filter
Filtering

Filtering

The easiest way to get water to drain through the water filter was to push it down into the container and let gravity do it’s thing. It takes a few seconds for the water to drain.

Coffee Filter Results
Results

Results

Here is a before and after shot of the coffee filtered water that is ready to put through your water purification system.

Filters

Coffee Filter Leftovers
Leftovers

We only used regular old coffee filters for this, but I poked around and found these Micro-Filters that are for espresso makers.

The description says: “The Micro-filter removes grit, unlike other press-type coffee makers” So I am assuming the filter is even more fine.

It might take longer for the water to work through, but they could be that much better for filtering out tiny grains of dirt. Find them here on Amazon: Micro-Filters.

If a reader wants to test them please let me know and we’ll publish your results.

Save your Bottles

In a survival situation you might only have a few bottles. Don’t contaminate them with dirty water. Use a collapsible bucket to collect water, then coffee filter, then really filter. 6 Great Uses for a Backpacking Bucket

BUNN BCF100-B 100-Count Basket Filter
  • Home-Brewer Filters Made Of 100% Pure Virgin Fiber
  • Continuously Checked For Proper Porosity, Flowrate, And Structure

Last update on 2020-07-06 at 14:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API



Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

33 thoughts on “Use Coffee Filters to Extend the Life of Your Water Filtration System”

  1. My Mr. Coffee came with a fine wire mesh permanent filter It is supported by a plastic frame. I am sure I have seen these sold seperately at Wal Mart. It could be carried and protected in a pack by placing it a Tupperware and the void space in the filter could be used to nestle other items so as to not waste space.

    Reply
  2. aj,

    That sounds pretty cool, like a permanent reusable filter. I wonder if the mesh is really as fine as a paper filter though? or if it even matters?

    If you give the pre-filter system a try with it let me know how it works out.

    Reply
  3. I want to throw my "worst case scenario" butt-saver out there. All survivors know the "RULE of 3's". In the worst case where all you can get is water (no food what so ever) You can still have an edge! I call this edge my "lyte-paks". I make these with this formula: 7 potassium tablet/ 3.5 teaspoon salt/ 7 Tablespoon sugar. This will suffice for a weeks worth of 1-day supplies. I crush the tabs and mix it all together (this will make a 7 day electrolyte supply). I divide it out into 7 equal parts, then vac-seal. In an emergency where you cant get food, you can dump 1 of these per day in drinking water and replace vital supplements or just eat it dry. You can drink all the water you want but without the sodium and potassium the muscles will quickly get fatigued. After a few days without food and electrolytes you mental capacity, heart, an other muscles will be effected. Its the poor mans gator-aid. REMEMBER the brain runs on sugars, but the muscles/heart MUST have sodium and potassium for electrical function.

    Reply
  4. The permanent filters don't strain out as much as the paper filters but using both together can have positive results. Filter through the permanent filter then the paper filter as sort of a two stage filtration system. Drink the result through your filter straw.

    Reply
  5. Just picked up a 100-pack of Melitta filters for about 3 bucks from the store, talk about a cheap and light thing that could really be useful!

    Reply
  6. My two cents worth on this subject, I have a PUR Scout model filter, used it for years backpacking and love it. I have had great success with the coffee filters as a "pre-filter" on the pick up tube end. Small 4 cup sized Mr Coffee filters doubled and a rubber band, and nice clean drinking water is provided. Yes, the scout is slow with the added chemical filter section attached, but I have not had a single issue with water related discomfort. The only real maintenance I've had besides cleaning was replacing the orings after a couple years use. Weighs about as much as a standard bottle of Ozarka.

    Reply
    • I have used dust masks and they work better than the coffee filter and hold up better when pouring water but they aren’t as cheap as the coffee filters. I keep 5 dust masks in my BOB for the vehicle and a box of 20 in the home BOB as well as the coffee filters.

      The coffee filters work well, cheap and for the cost you can’t beat its ability to be packed and not take up the room. I may try both together and see if changes anything in the results.

      Reply
  7. I'm looking into buying 2 water filtration units. One smaller, lighter one for my BOB and one to keep around for a base camp filter in case I'm able to return home but local water sources may be contaminated. I'm finding it difficult to determine which ones are the best. Anyone with experience using them have any feedback?

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    • The SAWER MINI is as good as it get up to 100,000 gallons, back-flushable, 2.5 in to 3 in by1.25 in , & down to 1 micron… 16.00 to 25.00 on amazon. I have 1 getting more as gifts for family .

      Reply
    • I have had a katadin viro also and love it , but the kat base-camp is gravity fed, dip the bag in the water fill and hang , attach drain tube to catch bag or bucket or bottle and you have water .

      Reply
  8. As far as a dust mask great idea and can be used in creeks and streams in city areas. The only down side is slow, slow, slow. have a buddy watch your back if you are getting water and only one person get the filtrate the water for all in the group while others stand guard. In the mountains above 9,000 feet you don't really need filtration as long as the water is running. Most animals don't hang out this high so very little worry about geardia (partials of feces from animals in water) You don't want this it can cause diarrhea, stomach craps and dehydration. Keep away from standing water even with a filter if at all possible. Standing water causes filter clogs and no filter will eliminate every micro threats. There is a product called a gravity filter and works great. They are cheap and you can make one if need be by using coffee filters. The product is highly effective and will hold up to three gallons of water. You simply dunk the unit in the water (keeping the spout above the water to limit exposure to micro contamination) The rip proof bag made out of high quality raft rubber had a large loop on top. You walk it back to camp and hang on a tree. the long spout tube hangs but doesn't touch the ground. There is a clip on the tube to stop or start the flow of water. The water flows down though a paper filter and out the spout. You can buy one of these from REI or any high end outfitter store for way cheaper than a filtration system like a pump that has plastic parts that break and spare parts needed to fix them when they break. Learn how to use a pump style filter system before crunch time and if you have a group tech them how to use as well. I have taken many back country trips for weeks guiding people and had many break due to people being to forceful or impatient. Then the whole group is screwed. Let people the harder they pump the less effective even the highest end pump will filter. I like to tell them it's not your kitchen sink. With a gravity pump you don't have this problem they are easy to clean, come with a patch kit and a no brainier to use. If you ever run out of filters you can use a bandanna, shirt sleve, sock and I have even used pine needles. If you plan on buying two filtration systems I would look at buying two of the same in case you need parts when one breaks you can use the other one for parts. One last thing Mountain Safety Research or MSR makes a small wand type filtration system that uses I believe a photo synthesis type system they are about $150 but can fit in your pocket and can be used a hell of a lot of times before replacing the charge. They are battery powered and take a bit to clean 8-12oz of water. Iodine tabs are nice also taste not so good but cheap light and easy to use + you can use them for injures if needed.

    Reply
  9. I enjoyed the article. Given what you stated, I would set up a double coffee filter system, standard filter on top to catch most of the big stuff, expresso filter next, catch the water in a plastic bottle or metal pot, then boil or use the 0.02 micron filter for bacteria. This effective system will greatly enhance the lifespan of your filter system, and probably enhance the flavor of the water.

    Reply
  10. i take two coffee filters and charcoal and glue then together to make a filter that is worth its weight in gold for filtering water ..i use it for fifty gallons of water and dispose of it. i use gorilla glue
    because it wont fall apart and forms a plastic seal ..good luck and good hunting

    Reply
  11. I ordered the Berkey water filters and ordered a spigot and some bucket to make my own water filter/collector. I have given a lot of thought to a simple inexpensive way to try and extend the life of these expensive filters and what I came up with was to purchase the small pool filters available at Walmart, Target,…etc. I bought the two pack that had filters are 4" tall and have a 1.75 hole. There is a plastic mesh inside the filter that can easilt be cut out with a knife. I remove the mesh and then I cut the rubber seal on both ends at the 12, 3, 6, znd 9 o'clock positions so that the cheap paper pleated paper filter will fit snuggly over the Berkey filter. I think this will stop a good deal of debris from ever even coming in contact with my filter. The cost of the filters was $6 and I might be able to do better once the summer is over. I posted a picture in my Skydrive "Prepping Folder" here is the link if anyone wants to see. https://cid-269aef6040832a62.skydrive.live.com/re

    Reply
  12. I have had coffee filters in my BOB for some time now. They can also be used for fire making in a pinch. Also, it isn't a bad idea to put a small ziploc bag of coffee grains or tea in your BOB. You got to remember some of the small pleasures in life in hard times. Waking up on a day of the SHTF a cup of coffee just might pick you up a bit….also it might literally pick you up, the caffeine giving you an extra boost if your feeling a bit tired.

    Reply
    • would activated carbon, like used in fish tank filters, filter the water as well? i know they use carbon in some coffee machines. i was thinking if youu put a layer of the carbon in one of the coffee filter, it might further filter the water

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    • I've been collecting those Folgers single-serving instant coffee packets and adding them to my BOB. You can get them @ WalMart for $1.00 per pack of 7 servings. I'm in total agreement…a cup of boiled water (to disinfect) just BEGS to become coffee! It's those little moments that make a survival situation more bearable.

      Reply
  13. That's a resourceful tip for water filtration! It is really a must to make sure your water's clean. Like us, we have water purification perth to be sure that we are drinking and using clean and safe water. The coffee filter can also work of course, and can save you money most importantly!

    Reply
  14. Using coffee filters to reduce contaminates in water is certainly better than no filter at all, but the filter is not fine enough to trap bacteria, viruses, etc., a commercial filter is better/safer! I prefer to set water in a clear container (usually plastic) with a loose lid on top in the sunlight for UV sterilizing and to let the dirt/etc. settle to the bottom, (often for several hours) then slowly pour the clear water thru a filter and/or into a pot for boiling (at least for three minutes full boil). Giardia and other viruses exist in almost all water sources, remember that birds shit anywhere and everywhere! Using both filtering and boiling together is probably best since boiling kills all known pathogens but doesn't remove heavy metals, which a good filter should do! A question I have for anyone out there is will placing a magnet in a make-shift filter reduce or eliminate heavy metals from the water? Or is there some other simple way to do that? Coffee filters have many other uses such as for fire making, toilet paper (better than pine needles), dust mask, etc. so they are worth carrying a few! I always carry instant coffee and/or tea because I'm a heavy coffee drinker and to suddenly not have that frequent caffein fix is mentally and physically detrimental, and not a good thing especially after SHTF! Good Luck!

    Reply
  15. I still have a case of coffee filters I bought from Sam's they also work on filtering oil motor oil does not go bad per sey
    but it does get so full of particulates that it becomes like sand paper and also clogs the system if you remove the
    particles it is useable oil most cheap recycled oil is just old filtered oil

    there is a toilet paper oil filter you can find on the net read the evaluations and reviews it has been around for years basically it states that oil stays the same it is the particles that change it's properties once cleaned it is
    and condensation removed it is as good as it was before.

    Reply

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